Seven Questions with Caleb Warren
"My two primary research questions are (1) what makes things funny? and (2) what makes things cool?"
What brought you to the Eller College?
My wife Nooshin Warren brought me to Eller, both figuratively and literally. She completed her Ph.D. last year at Texas A&M and not only landed a job at the University of Arizona but was able to get me an interview, too. Since I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado, I had always thought of the UA as my dream job. The marketing department has an incredible mix of scholars who have done more to inspire my work than any other group. Tucson being a mountainous college town in the Southwest was also a huge draw. When we moved here, Nooshin drove the last leg of our trip from Texas to Arizona, thereby literally bringing me to Eller, too.
How long have you been at Eller?
I started working in the marketing department in July 2017. I had previously worked at Texas A&M University and before that at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.
What is your current research, and what most excites you about that area of focus?
Generally, my research uses an experimental approach to study what motivates and influences consumers to value, buy, and use products. I also investigate what effects buying and using products has on consumers' well-being. Specifically, my two primary research questions are (1) what makes things funny? and (2) what makes things cool? In addition to finding these topics intrinsically interesting, understanding them is critical as marketing continues to become more prevalent in society, yet also more difficult to successfully execute. As the amount of marketing increases, consumers are paying less attention to any of it. Being funny and being cool are two ways that marketers can break through the clutter and capture consumers' attention. But doing this requires a better understanding of how to be funny and how to be cool. My research tries to improve this understanding.
What are you currently teaching?
I teach courses in consumer behavior and digital marketing. I enjoy getting students to think critically about marketing, politics, religion, or any other individual or institution is influencing their behavior. By understanding the different factors that influence their behavior, often unconsciously, students can gain more agency and control over their lives.
How do you bring your research into your teaching?
The topics that I research are important to understanding both consumer behavior and digital marketing. For example, humor helps marketers attract attention, and attracting attention is a focal topic in consumer behavior and is essential for success in social media marketing. Consequently, I incorporate my research on how to be funny to help teach students one way to attract consumers' attention.
Beyond research and teaching, what are your passions?
I enjoy outdoor activities, especially hiking, skiing, swimming, and mountain biking. I also love music. I enjoy playing guitar (albeit poorly) and listening to a wide variety of music, from Bob Dylan and Otis Redding to Outkast and Calexico.
What does the Eller Experience mean to you?
It means working with a great group of colleagues and energetic, open-minded students.